Jugnu by Ruchi Singh – A Book Review

jugnu

Can you love two men at the same time with the same intensity? A question that, is not to be brushed aside with a sneer. It’s a dilemma, which has plagued us from time immemorial and has kept us awake many a nights.
But yes, one of them is the forbidden love. But isn’t the forbidden fruit the more delicious of the lot? Just a thought, not be pondered much about.
In Jugnu (Firefly) too, Ashima is torn between the love of her life, her husband, Rohit and the sudden whiff of fresh air Zayd. What makes it maybe not so forbidden is the fact that she is waiting for someone in the hope that he will return some day, while the beacon of love and happiness is perhaps staring right in her eyes.
What makes her desire a taboo in the eyes of the society is that that she has given her heart away to a man who is younger that her and hails from a different a religion, a religion that is directly responsible for the absence or loss of her husband.
Without giving away the story, Jugnu is not the run of the mill love teenybopper love story. It is more than just a romance, it’s about human lives, the hopelessness of hope itself and how we manoeuvre ourselves in the face of tragedy. Ashima, on the façade is all strength and courage and bravado, who has lost herself in running the everyday affairs of the household and meeting demands of everyone around her. But she is a human being after all, who sparks up with passion and desire much the like the fireflies on a dark night.
The character, who in my opinion, stands out the most is Zayd Abbas Rizvi. Despite a troubled past he has grown as a person and has engaged himself in a more fruitful pursuit. Not many 24 year olds would be capable of what Zayd has managed to inculcate although he has been socially ostracised time and again. No matter how much he pays for his sins, it’s never enough for the society. Yet he is not embittered and is willing to give life a second chance, help people, find love and be happy. He has moments of nightmares and second thoughts, but then in his shoes who wouldn’t?
In many ways Zayd is the Jugnu in Ashima’s life. In the dark depths of misery and despair, Zayd is the firefly that lights up her world, lights up her mind to find the closure she is not ready to accept, lights up her heart with love and passion.
The other characters in the story are as believable as Ashima and Zayd. Though I feel the mothers in law have really earned a bad name in our country and perhaps around the world, hence a spiteful old lady, waiting for her son and blaming her daughter in law makes for a good yarn and more sympathy for the protagonist. But, since Jugnu did take a leap in many ways, this hackneyed mother in law character could have been better etched. .
I would have loved to see an older Ashmia with a slightly bigger son, falling in love with a man considerably younger to her – her dilemma would have been more pronounced.
Ruchi Singh, has very artfully created a setting, a location, which is not just a place but very much an intrinsic character that builds the storyline. The forebodingness, the solitude, the quiet all adds up to Ashmia’s loneliness and pain. The surroundings resonate her mood, her sorrow her entire being.
To add as a parting thought, this story would make a good Bollywood flick. Ruchi Singh start writing the screenplay.

FirefliesNightSky

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